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The main goal of teaching kids good oral habits is to help them avoid the array of diseases and conditions that affect the teeth and gums. Tooth decay is the most common oral issue encountered by pediatric dentists, with over 40% of children developing this dental condition before kindergarten. The reason being, children, are very prone to the two factors that often precede dental cavities, namely:
Furthermore, clinics offering dentistry for children have reported notable spikes in various other pediatric dental conditions, including tooth sensitivity, Pediatric Gingivitis, and gum disease.
Fortunately, parents can teach their kids how to effectively avoid dental cavities and all other pediatric oral hygiene-related conditions. When children learn good oral habits, the outcome is fewer trips to kids dental care clinics.
You begin by brushing your kids’ teeth yourself because they have yet to develop the fine motor skills needed to carry out the task themselves. Providers of dentistry for children advise that you start doing this as soon as baby teeth appear which is around 6 months old.
While you can find super-soft brushes at your local supermarket, some pediatric dentists recommend using a soft cloth to wipe off plaque from your baby’s teeth.
Once they reach toddler age at about 18 months, you can then switch to a hands-on approach of teaching dental hygiene, i.e., assisting your child in cleaning their teeth. You should ensure that you get your child a soft kids’ toothbrush and a low-fluoride toothpaste. While you may still prefer to brush your kid’s teeth yourself, child dentists recommend that you gradually transition the responsibility to the child.
This can initially involve carrying out most of the brushing and only letting your kid finish up the process. At age two, your child should be cleaning their teeth themselves. Also, by this time, your child should have heard their first dental check-up at a clinic specializing in dentistry for children, i.e., a pediatric dental clinic.
Once your toddler can clean their teeth while under your close supervision, then it’s time to reinforce this good oral habit. One way to do this is by having your kids clean their teeth every time you do so yourself. However, for this reinforcement strategy to succeed in creating a lifelong habit, you must ensure you stick to a regular brushing schedule. At this stage, you may also introduce dental flossing to your child’s oral hygiene routine.
You can further reinforce good oral hygiene in your kids through the use of props, which include posters on the benefits of dental hygiene, toy toothbrushes for role play, and so forth. Teaching your kids proper dental hygiene ultimately saves you money you’d spend on dentistry for children.
However, even as you teach your kids good oral hygiene, always remember that it is important to take them for their bi-annual dental checkups. This allows your pediatric dentist to spot any dental problems early and treat them immediately.